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SanDisk Sansa Shaker: MP3 player or Happy Meal toy?

The latest MP3 player from SanDisk, oh-so appropriately dubbed the Shaker, looks a lot like a salt shaker and integrates a shaking shuffle feature.

Perhaps it's a bit of both. Thanks to a meeting with SanDisk last week (for which I was under embargo until this Amazon slip-up), I've got the real details on the latest MP3 player from SanDisk. The oh-so appropriately dubbed Shaker looks a lot like a salt shaker thanks to an external speaker built into one end, but that's only part of its namesake. As one might expect, you can also physically shake the player to interact with the music. Specifically, if you "shake it up" while music is playing, the Sansa shuffles to a new song, and if the music is paused, you'll hear a "boing" sound effect. This isn't the first player to use such technology: the Sony NW-S200 Sport Walkman also offers a shake-n-shuffle feature, but that sleek, cigar-shaped player is patently not aimed at the kiddies. The Shaker, on the other hand, is supposed to offer kids a fun way to get in on the digital music game.

SanDisk certainly has its target audience in mind with the design of the Shaker. The hourglass shape is perfect for small hands, and as it is roughly the size of salt shaker, it won't be a choking hazard for little ones. The navigation is simple: either shake to shuffle it up or twist the ring around the bottom to move forward and backward through tracks. Another ring around the top lets you adjust volume--hopefully, SanDisk has implemented a volume limiter to save small ears (I haven't had a chance to ask them that, but I will when I receive a review unit tomorrow). As is wise with an MP3 player aimed at the younger set, the Shaker includes two headphone jacks for sharing tunes. It has no built-in memory, but will include a 512MB SD card, which fits in a slot hidden under a flap in the bottom (this is also where you'll find the standard mini-USB port and a spot for a AAA battery). At $40, it's still a bit cost-prohibitive for those MickeyD's Happy Meals, but who knows what the future may hold.